The Italian restaurant in America has changed in style probably more than any other genre of restaurant over the past several decades. Even as recently as 50 years ago, the term "Italian restaurant" conjured images of red and white checkered tablecloths, carafes of middling chianti, and a red sauce-heavy menu. But a new breed of Italian restaurants has emerged onto the scene, and from Michelin-starred temples to classic pizzerias, we've rounded up America's 50 best.
To assemble this ranking, we looked at restaurants that made it to our lists of the 101 Best Restaurants in America as well as the 101 Best Casual Restaurants in America, which we release early every year. The steps we took to build those rankings were as thorough and comprehensive as possible: We recruited a panel of judges that included some of the country’s top food writers, critics, and bloggers to take a survey and vote for the best of the best restaurants from across the country. The final rankings included a significant number of Italian restaurants, and this ranking took those restaurants into account as well as ones included in recent roundups of the best Italian restaurant in every state, the best pasta dish in every state and the best pizza in every state.
All of these restaurants fit a certain criteria: impeccable, un-snooty service; high-quality food sourced from the finest purveyors; creative-yet-classic preparation and craftsmanship; and an overall experience that leaves you happy and content in the fact that you just ate a world-class meal. Our ranking runs the gamut from old-school neighborhood joints with decades of history to the fine dining institutions. Read on to learn which Italian restaurants are America's best.